Growing up in a suburb of Chicago, I was exposed to the extremes of seasons. As a kid and adolescent, this was fine—I was active in various sports around the calendar. But as an adult, I grew impatient with the sub-zero winters, characterized by “The Hawk”—the bone-chilling wind coming off Lake Michigan. The sweltering, humid summers with soaking wet sweaty clothes took an additional toll. The East Coast was not much better. I gravitated toward spring and fall, and impatiently awaited their arrival while a medical student at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. When I was awarded a summer fellowship in my junior year to the Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute in 1963, I fell in love with San Francisco overnight.
I lived in the city for almost 10 years, loving the temperate climate. In 1973, my wife Josephine and I decided to move into a house in Kentfield, a small town in Marin County, about 30 minutes from San Francisco across the Golden Gate bridge. The climate remains temperate, but with a bit more sense of season there, with summers that may occasionally go into the 90s, and winters that rarely reach freezing. A part of our motivation for the move was having easy access to outdoor life.
Our home is on a woodsy hill, 5 minutes from Mount Tamalpais, a 2500 foot mountain of surpassing beauty. Not tall as mountains go, but laced with 120 miles of fire roads, and many times that of serpentine trails through gorgeous terrain. We soon took up running and walking our dogs there, and joined a gym. Those activities have remained a regular part of our week. We also joined a tennis club. I had played a fair amount as a child, and was excited to get into it again. I played avidly several times a week for about a dozen years, until a series of ankle sprains made me back off. Thankfully, with the aid of ankle braces, I was able to continue my runs. At that point, in the mid-eighties, we took up mountain biking which has given us many years of pleasure. Periodically, we have indulged another outdoor passion: fly fishing.
Being outdoors has a meditative quality for me, and I find myself often refreshingly free of any thoughts as I run or ride the trails and fire roads of Mt. Tam, or stalk a fish with my fly road on salt-water sand flats. On occasion, a musical theme will germinate there, but more often, I feel I am re-charging my creative batteries.